Help Reauthorize VAWA!
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), enacted in 1994, recognizes the insidious and pervasive nature of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking and supports comprehensive, effective and cost-saving responses to these crimes. VAWA programs, administered by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, give law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and community agencies the tools they need to hold offenders accountable and keep communities safe while supporting victims.
We can’t stress enough how important it is for a groundswell of voices to tell Congress to reauthorize VAWA now. In order to break through the noise, we will have to be strong, loud, persistent and determined.
Tweeting Pro-Tip: Attach a photo from above to your tweet to attract more attention!
TY @JacksonLeeTX18 for being a champion for survivors of sexual assault. We welcome the introduction of the ‘Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2018’ for a #VAWA4ALL #VAWA18
The Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2018, introduced by @JacksonLeeTX18 today, includes key enhancements for all survivors of domestic and sexual violence. @HouseDemocrats and @HouseGOP, let’s get this bill across the finish line! #VAWA18 #VAWA4ALL
The Violence Against Women Act has always been a bipartisan bill. @Rephandle can we count on you to co-sponsor @JacksonLeeTX18 ‘Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2018’ for a #VAWA4All survivors? #VAWA18
We’re with @JacksonLeeTX18 to pass #VAWA4ALL because communities need access to sexual assault prevention! @RepHandle, please co-sponsor #VAWA18
We’re with @JacksonLeeTX18 to pass #VAWA4ALL because survivors need housing protections! @RepHandle, please co-sponsor the ‘Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2018’
We’re with @JacksonLeeTX18 to pass #VAWA4ALL because native survivors deserve justice! Please co-sponsor @RepHandle
@Representative, violence against women happens in our community, too. Reauthorize #VAWA and support prevention and education programs that keep our jurisdiction safe!
Violence doesn’t discriminate and neither should our laws! Support #VAWA18 and ensure Native survivors of gender-based violence have access to justice on tribal lands! #VAWA4ALL
Violence doesn’t discriminate and neither should our laws! Support #VAWA18 and ensure incarcerated survivors of gender-based violence have access to trauma-informed care! #VAWA4ALL
Support #VAWA18 and ensure survivors of domestic abuse access to safe housing! #VAWA4ALL
Reducing access to firearms saves women’s lives! Support #VAWA18 and help prevent firearm-involved intimate partner homicides #VAWA4ALL
What does this bill do?
Increases authorization for the Rape Prevention & Education Program from $50 million to $150 million to address skyrocketing need and demand for community prevention programs.
Returns sovereignty to tribes to prosecute non-native offenders of sexual assault, trafficking, stalking, and child abuse.
Adds new definitions including Abuse in Later Life; Alternative Justice Response; Digital Services; Forced Marriage; Economic Abuse; and Technological Abuse and updates the definition of domestic violence.
Strengthens public housing protections for survivors including those seeking housing transfers based on safety concerns.
Adds a new purpose to the Improving Criminal Justice Response grant program to implement alternative justice responses that are focused on victim autonomy, agency and safety to provide resolution and restitution for the victim.
Strengthens privacy protections across state lines, online with digital records, and preserves confidentiality upon survivor’s death in accordance with their wishes.
Acknowledges the trauma of incarceration on women and their family members, especially their children, and improves health care services and trauma informed responses to better prepare incarcerated women to return to their communities.
Improves enforcement of current federal domestic violence-related firearms laws and closes loopholes to reduce firearm-involved abuse and intimate partner homicide.
Expands VAWA’s ability to respond to sexual harassment.
LOOK OUT FOR FEDERAL LEGISLATION
June 14, 2018
So much is going on in Congress during this work period! We wanted to provide you with some key updates.
The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up their FY 19 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) bill today including $37.5 million for the Sexual Assault Assault Services Program (SASP) which is a $2.5 increase from FY 18 and $2 million more than the House CJS bill. Most VAWA programs are level-funded with increases in Rural and Transitional Housing as well. VAWA is funded by transfers from VOCA in the Senate bill. The VOCA cap is funded at $4.3 billion including tribal funding.
This week, the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence sent a letter to Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Feinstein (D-CA) expressing our grave concerns with the current Judiciary majority Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization draft. Rollbacks to the 2013 nondiscrimination provision, lack of response on tribal issues, and lack of a prevention increase are some of our chief concerns. Senator Feinstein has pledged to stand with us as we continue to negotiate on these issues. The draft includes almost none of the key enhancements the NTF has asked for. On the House side, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) has a strong draft and is working to find a republican co-sponsor. Her draft includes almost all of the NTF’s requested provisions.
Campus Sexual Assault:
The House is moving on the Prosper Act, the majority version of the Higher Education Act. You may recall that many of you signed onto a letter in opposition to that bill based on the many rollbacks to survivor protections. House democrats are contemplating an alternative including requiring campus climate surveys. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) is also re-introducing the HALT Act which NAESV supports.
Military Sexual Assault:
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is on the Senate floor this week, and Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) is trying to get a vote on her Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) amendment which takes prosecution of sexual assault out of the chain of command. It is not clear yet whether a vote will occur. There are also new domestic violence provisions in the NDAA including extending the availability of special victims counsel to a broader group of victims
Workplace Sexual Violence:
Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Empower Act which is actually 2 bills that address workplace sexual harassment including preventing pre-employment non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and non-disparagement clauses, creating a tip line at EEOC, preventing sexual harassment settlements by corporations from being tax deductible, and making the history of sexual harassment claims at corporations more transparent. NDAs would still be permitted in specific settlements in which they are found to be in the survivor’s best interest. NAESV has joined Futures Without Violence, AAUW, and a number of other groups in endorsing this legislation.
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA) will be introducing SASCA which creates a pilot program and demonstration initiative to look at the availability of medical professionals to provide sexual assault forensic examinations. NAESV supported this bill in the past, and will continue to do so.
AG’s decision on asylum claims based on domestic violence:
Advocates and immigration judges are pushing back hard on this terrible decision to disallow asylum claims based on domestic and gang violence. Legal organizations are making the point that claims call still be brought based on the legal precedent around this issue.
Terri Poore, MSW
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence